Call signs in Australia
Call signs in Australia are allocated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority and are unique for each broadcast station. The use of callsigns on-air in both radio and television in Australia is optional, so many stations used other on-air identifications. Australian broadcast stations officially have the prefix VL- and originally all callsigns used that format, but since Australia has no nearby neighbours, this prefix is no longer used except in an international context.
Call sign blocks for telecommunicationEdit
|Call sign block|
While not directly related to call signs, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) further has divided all countries assigned amateur radio prefixes into three regions; Australia is located in ITU Region 3. It is assigned ITU Zones 55, 58 and 59, with the Pacific Islands in Australian jurisdiction in Zone 60.
Australia is assigned CQ Zones 29 & 30.
Call signs for radioEdit
All radio call signs begin with a single-digit number indicating the state or territory, followed by two or three letters. In most cases, two letters are used for AM stations and three for FM, but there are some exceptions, such as 5UV in Adelaide, which broadcasts on an FM frequency, and 3RPH in Melbourne, which broadcasts on an AM frequency. While some AM stations retained their old call signs when moving to FM, most add an extra letter to the call sign. For instance, when 7HO Hobart became an FM station, it adopted the callsign 7HHO.
Certain ABC radio stations, particularly outside of metropolitan areas, may use five-letter call signs for FM stations: xABCFM for ABC Classic FM, xABCRN for Radio National, and xABCRR for ABC Local Radio – the x being the state number. Also, SBS FM radio stations use a five-letter call sign, xSBSFM. (Sydney and Melbourne's AM stations use 2EA and 3EA, meaning Ethnic Australia.)
There are a number of exceptions:
- For some time, two radio stations used the callsign 4CCC – a commercial station in Charleville and a community station in Warwick, both in Queensland. The Warwick station's call sign was later changed to 4SDB. In addition, a temporary community broadcaster, 4CCC Coral Coast Country Community Radio Inc, uses the name 4CCC, though it does not have a callsign.
- Rebel FM, The Breeze, and Flow FM, which have many transmitters in Regional and Remote Central and Eastern Australia, use the callsigns 4RBL, 4BRZ and 8SAT respectively, regardless of which state their transmitters are located in.
- Radio Station 1RPH Canberra, Australian Capital Territory has relay transmitters in New South Wales
- The following Victorian stations also have relay transmitters in New South Wales: 3HOT and 3RUM.
- The following New South Wales stations also have relay transmitters in Victoria: 2AAY, 2BDR and 2MOR.
- The following New South Wales stations also have relay transmitters in Queensland: 2MW and 2TEN.
- 8KIN Alice Springs, Northern Territory has a relay transmitter in Pasminco Century Mine, Queensland, and several in South Australia.
- 3MBR Murrayville, Victoria has a relay transmitter in Lameroo, South Australia.
- The Nhulumbuy, Northern Territory transmitter for triple J has the callsign 6JJJ.
- Open narrowcast radio stations have no official call sign, though some stations use one (e.g. 3XY Radio Hellas in Melbourne).
The following are lists of Australian radio station call signs.
- List of radio station callsigns in the Australian Capital Territory
- List of radio station callsigns in New South Wales
- List of radio station callsigns in Victoria
- List of radio station callsigns in Queensland
- List of radio station callsigns in South Australia
- List of radio station callsigns in Western Australia
- List of radio station callsigns in Tasmania
- List of radio station callsigns in the Northern Territory
Australian radios usually had the positions of radio stations marked on their dials.
Australia's postcodes, introduced in 1967, use the same digit as the radio callsigns, followed by an additional three digits (eg. NSW: 2XXX, Victoria: 3XXX, etc.).
There is an urban myth that call signs were based on Australian military districts but this incorrect as the following list of military districts show: 1 = Queensland; 2 = New South Wales; 3 = Victoria; 4 = South Australia; 5 = Western Australia; 6 = Tasmania; 7 = Northern Territory; 8 = New Guinea, and Papua.
Television call signsEdit
Television station call signs begin with two letters usually denoting the station itself, followed by a third letter denoting the state. For example, NBN's call sign stands for Newcastle Broadcasting, New South Wales. There are some exceptions:
- Many ABC television stations outside of state capitals add a fourth letter (and in rare cases a fifth) between AB and the state. This is used to denote the area, e.g. the Newcastle station is known as ABHN, standing for Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Hunter Valley, New South Wales. Some state capital stations follow the same rule as commercial stations, also using AB as the first two letters; for example, ABV is Melbourne's ABC television station.
- Many ABC television stations now have the call sign ABC, regardless of which state or territory they are in.
- SBS television stations all use SBS in their call signs, regardless of the state.
- Commercial station Imparja Television uses IMP, even though they are based in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.
- CTC's stations in southern New South Wales also use CTC as their call sign.
- CBN and WIN also use CBN and WIN as their respective call signs for stations in the Australian Capital Territory.
- GLV/BCV, AMV and VTV use GLV, BCV, AMV and VTV as call signsin for their respective stations in border areas of southern New South Wales (e.g., Balranald, Deniliquin, Albury North).
- NBN, NEN and NRN stations that serve Murwillumbah, New South Wales, use the call signs NBN, NEN and NRN respectively, even though their transmitters are located in Springbrook, Queensland.
- NBN, NEN and NRN stations in south-east Queensland also use these call signs (e.g., the Gold Coast).
- Central Digital Television stations have the call sign CDT despite only a small fraction of its licence area covering parts of Tasmania.
- Southern Cross Central stations in regional and remote central and eastern Australia use QQQ even for stations outside Queensland.
- Various indigenous community television stations in regional and remote Australia have the call sign ACT (for Aboriginal Community Television) even though they're not in Tasmania.
- Open narrowcast television stations have no official call sign.
Amateur radio in Australia has its own set of call signs, managed by the Australian Maritime College, normally starting with the prefix VK, the state identifier, and then 1,2,3, or 4 letters.
Advanced VK$aa, VJ$a, VK$a, VL$a
Repeater / Beacon VK$Raa-VK$Rzz
'It is also no longer necessary to change one's callsign should the amateur move states within Australia or advance to a higher licence class'.
Amateur radio or ham radio call signs are unique identifiers for the 19,500 licensed operators in Australia. Call signs are regulated internationally by the ITU as well as nationally by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which is Australia's regulator for broadcasting, administering spectrum use through the provisions of the Radio-communications Act 1992. ACMA is also responsible for amateur radio licensing. The Wireless Institute of Australia had the responsibility for the management of amateur station call signs from 2 March 2009 until February 2019 .
Amateur radio call sign assignments within AustraliaEdit
The usual prefix for Australian amateur call signs is VK. The numeral that separates the prefix from the suffix indicates the state/territory in which the operator is licensed.
|1||Australian Capital Territory|
|2||New South Wales|
|9||Australian External Territories||VK9C||Cocos Island|
|VK9L||Lord Howe Island|
Since 1 November 2009 callsigns in the VK9 region have been treated the same as all other call areas, and individual islands are no longer designated by a special letter.
Operator class call signsEdit
With the exception of repeaters and beacons, the ACMA removed the relationship between the first letter of a call and the type of licence as of July 29, 2020. Should someone move state they no longer need to change their call for one with their new states number in, they can retain their existing callsign. 
Prior to this change, the following structure was in place:
- Advanced Licences – indicated by the following structure: VK# xx, VK# Axx, VK# Bxx, VK# Cxx, VK# Dxx, VK# Exx, VK# Fxx, VK# Gxx, VK# Ixx, VK# Jxx, VK# Kxx, VK# Oxx, VK# Sxx, VK# Txx, VK# Uxx, VK# Wxx, VK# Xxx, VK# Yxx, VK# Zxx, VK# RAN, VK2RAS, VK# WIA–WIZ (WIA), VK# GGA–GGZ (Guides Aust), VK# SAA–SDZ (Scouts Assoc.), VK7OTC, VK# IYA–IYZ (International years)
- Standard Licences – VK# Hxx, VK# Lxx, VK# Mxx, VK# Nxx, VK# Pxx, VK# Vxx
- Foundation Licences – (four-letter suffixes beginning with 'F') VK# Fxxx
- Repeater call signs – VK# Rxx
- Beacon call signs – VK# RSx, VK# RTx
A special event prefix of 'AX' can be substituted for 'VK' on occasions of national significance (e.g. Sydney Olympic Games) and each year on Australia Day, Anzac day and World Information Society Day.
A special event prefix of 'VI' can be substituted for 'VK' on occasions of state/territory significance.
VJ & VL prefixesEdit
The special (contest only) prefixes of 'VJ' & 'VL' are only used with 2x1 contest call signs, implemented from July 29th 2020. 2x1 call signs may ONLY be used during contests.
Overseas visiting amateursEdit
Visiting amateurs who qualify under a two-party joint agreement between Australia and their home country can use their home call sign, and attach a '/VK' after it. If a visiting amateur is issued an Australian call sign, they can combine both (e.g. VK1AAA/WA7AAA). Visiting amateurs holding a "full" callsign from a CEPT agreement (TR61/01) signing country PREFIX their home callsign with VKn/ (where n is the number for the state or territority they are in) and may operate for up to 3 months within Australia after which time application for a reciprocal licence under CEPT agreement TR61/02 is required.
Call sign historyEdit
David Burger has written the definitive history of call sign allocation in the country.
Wireless experimenters were in most states by 1897, and the first list of call signs and licensees is from 1911. In 1912 the first system of a designated range for each state was issued by the PMG Department based on an XAA–XZZ block of letters. When all the three letter call signs were issued, provision was made to expand to four (e.g. XAAA). In 1914 a numeral was inserted after the 'X' to indicate the state (e.g. XAA became X1AA).
In 1927 the Washington Radiotelegraph Conference decreed that Australia should use the prefix range of VHA–VNZ for communication identification. However, amateur radio itself was not subject to this designation, and 'OA' became effective for amateurs from 1 February 1927. "O" was for Oceania and "A" for Australia. By 1929 Australia began the practice of using 'VK' for amateurs as well.
With a lack of official issuance, though, some radio experimenters continued with various formats such as XA-4CD, OA2-BH, VK.2AK and VK-4SU. There was even VK3D.L. and VK3H-W.
1947 Atlantic City convention and subsequentEdit
As of 19 September 1947 Australia adopted the ITU international call sign protocol and recognised amateur radio stations as valid licensees. The ITU issued Australia with the AXA–AXZ, VHA–VNZ and VZA–VZZ blocks.
VK#xx and VK#Axx call signs were issued to amateurs.
Changes within Australia happened according to this table:
|VK#Zxx||1954||limited to VHF and above|
|P29||1972||Papua New Guinea changed from VK9|
|VI, AX||1979||first use, also VL, VM, VN and VZ allowed|
|VK#xx||2004||2-letter suffix, advanced operators|
|VK#Fxxx||2006||4-letter suffix, foundation licence|
|VK9||2006||individual islands formally identified by suffix|
|VK9||2009||treated the same as all other call areas|
Letters and numbers used by Australian stations:
|Australian Capital Territory||1*||C (after Canberra)|
|New South Wales||2*||N|
|Northern Territory||8||D (after Darwin)|
|Papua New Guinea||9||P (Prior to independence in 1975), e.g., 9PM Port Moresby|
|Territorial Islands Lord Howe, Norfolk, Christmas, etc.||2 or 6**||W**|
* Originally, radio callsigns in the ACT had the format 2xx(x), like those in New South Wales. However, newer stations in the territory have been allocated callsigns with the format 1xxx. See List of radio station callsigns in the Australian Capital Territory for more information.
** Formerly 9. Radio stations in Lord Howe Island and Norfolk Island now use the same call sign format as New South Wales. Radio and television stations in Cocos (Keeling) Islands and Christmas Island now use the same call sign format as Western Australia.
Call sign history in the territoriesEdit
- Christmas Island: ZC3 (pre-1940), Japan (1940 to 1944), 9V (1945 to 1958), VK9X (since 1958).
- Cocos Keeling island: ZC2 (pre-1940), VK9Y (1955 to 1992), VK9C (since 1992).
- Papua New Guinea: VK4/VK9/P29 (since 1972).
- Nauru: VK9 then C2 (since 31 January 1968).
- "International Telecommunication Union country call sign assignments". Archived from the original on 6 July 2011.
- "Hammaps". www4.plala.or.jp.
- Radio and Television Broadcasting Stations, Australian Communications and Media Authority, Internet Edition April 2008.
- Radio and Television Broadcasting Stations Internet Edition, Australian Communications and Media Authority, January 2013.
- "Current Temporary Community Broadcasting Licences" (PDF). Australian Communications and Media Authority. 7 January 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 July 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2013.
- Gavin Long, Australia in the War of 1939–1945', https://www.awm.gov.au/histories/second_world_war/AWMOHWW2/Army/Vol1/
- "WIA". Archived from the original on 27 March 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "Amateur Callsign Structure (Australia)". Archived from the original on 30 March 2010. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "Changes to the VK9 licensing arrangements". Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 20 June 2019.
- Authority, Australian Communications and Media (29 July 2020). "Changes to amateur radio call sign policy | ACMA". www.acma.gov.au.
- "Overseas amateurs visiting Australia ACMA". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "Callsign History - Australia - Engineering and Technology History Wiki". ethw.org.
- "Washington Radiotelegraph Conference 1927" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 8 March 2014. Retrieved 6 January 2016.
- "1947 Atlantic City ITU convention" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 10 July 2012.